NBA 2K21 doesn't have a sterling reputation among its players partly due to the way the series implements microtransactions that have long seemed to cross a line. But now the team behind the popular series has found a new line to cross in including unskippable advertisements during loading screens.
First reported by Stevivor following a news tip from a reader, it's now been confirmed that NBA 2K21 is host to an ongoing ad campaign for the Oculus Quest 2, the new VR headset from Facebook. Ads for the device appear during some loading screens in the game across all platforms.
The ads run during a loading screen which takes longer to complete than the ads do to play out, so it would seem 2K felt this would be the best place to insert ads, in a portion of the game that players would be stuck staring at a blank screen anyway, with no wait to skip it with or without ads. However, people aren't happy about the move regardless of where the ads have been inserted, and it does bring up an important question for next-gen versions of the game; what happens when loading times are so much faster?
The current Oculus Quest 2 ads are 15-second spots. If on the PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, NBA 2K21 loads faster than that, will players still have to watch these ads? It's a question worth asking but without an answer yet.
Perhaps 2K knew the campaign would receive blowback from the community. They only needed to look to EA for guidance on how it may go. EA previously tried inserting ads into UFC 4 earlier this year, but it drew such an outcry that they were swiftly removed.
"It is abundantly clear from your feedback that integrating ads into the Replay and overlay experience is not welcome,” EA said in a September apology. “The advertisements have been disabled by the team and we apologize for any disruption to gameplay that players may have experienced."
Time will tell whether 2K makes the same moves to satisfy disgruntled fans, who rightfully don't understand the inclusion of ads in a game already fully-priced with abundant microtransactions.